Independent Record Labels: How to get your artists on streaming services for free

Setting up your own record label doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive anymore.

With RouteNote you can upload all your artists to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and more, as well as digital stores like iTunes and Google Play. The best part is it’s completely FREE and there’s no limit to uploads so it’s perfect for record labels large and small.

Music streaming makes up the majority of modern music consumption and digital stores provide easy access for anyone around the world to purchase music. That’s why making your music available online is so important in the modern music industry.

Here are all the benefits of distributing through RouteNote:

  • Free distribution to the top stores and streamers
  • Keep 85% of all profits (100% using our Premium tier)
  • You always keep 100% of the rights to your music
  • Opt-out anytime – you can leave us, change your account, and manage the stores you’re on at anytime. You never have to make a commitment.
  • Free UPCs/EANs and ISRCs for releases
  • Optional mastering from Landr on upload
  • Earn extra through our referral system
  • Access to a giant library of tracks from RouteNote artists you can use on your YouTube videos for free
  • Join our SoundCloud Network free to make money and get unlimited upload time
  • Join our YouTube Network free and make money from your videos
  • Your choice of whichever stores and streamers you want to distribute to

Our Premium Tier allows you to keep 100% of your profits for a small yearly charge:

  • Single = $10
  • EP = $20
  • Album = $30
  • Extended Album = $45

You can sign up today or find out more at www.routenote.com

If you have any questions feel free to get in contact via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Get your favourite SoundCloud tracks on vinyl

Vinyl is more popular now than it’s been in years and with that in mind a new service is blending streaming with the vinyl of old.

Vinylize.it is a new service that blends the music formats of yesteryear with the massively popular, music streaming site SoundCloud. You can request your favourite artists permission to approve a vinyl version of their SoundCloud tracks.

SoundCloud lets anyone upload their music to their site, but with this system it makes it hard to properly own music especially since a lot of these tracks aren’t available to download. Vinylize allows you to pay for their music, which the original artist just has to approve with vinyl ready audio files and your record will be created and delivered.

It’s so easy to do that there are just 4 steps:

  1. Select your favourite tracks or playlist from your SoundCloud account
  2. Create and preview your record
  3. Share and rally support for your vinyl record release
  4. Once approved by the artist, your record (with the proper audio files) will be made available to order

Vinylize.it is ready to launch soon, you can find out more and be notified of it’s official launch here.

The top 5 best MIDI controllers

If you’re making or producing music on a computer a MIDI controller will become one of your most important tools. Even if you’re recording live instruments the process is streamlined and enhanced with a plethora of functions literally at your fingertips.
With so many MIDI controllers available though it can be hard to pick the one that’s best for you. So we’ve collected what we think are the 5 of the best MIDI controllers on the market in this list.

Click on each devices title to go straight to their store page for more info and buying options.


APC Series by Akai

Akai undoubtedly produce some of the best affordable music tech out there and their APC series is top of the barrel for affordable music production tools. The APC series will work with most DAWs but is at it’s best when used with Ableton for it’s intuitively matched design.

There are 3 different primary controllers in the series, each unique and brilliant. My personal favourite is the incredibly affordable but powerful APC Key 25, with a range of functions so deep you can record entire tracks just using the controller.

All controllers in the APC series come with Ableton Live Lite and some other free software goodies. They will all work with Windows XP and higher or Mac OS X 10.5 and higher.

APC40 MKII (£264 / $299)

digital music production MIDI controller

Unlock the true potential of Ableton Live with APC40 MKII, only from Akai Professional. Combining deep control over Live with an enormous library of hand-selected sound content & virtual instruments, APC40 MKII puts endless creative capability at your fingertips.

APC Key 25 (£59 / $129)

MIDI controller music production digital DAW

APC Key 25 puts all the controls you need for live or studio creation right in front of you. Compose and perform with the best combination of rhythmic and melodic hardware.

APC Mini (£59 / $99)

MIDI controller mixing music production

Deft, agile, and powerful, the only thing “mini” about this Ableton controller is the size. APC Mini offers a comprehensive performance toolkit in a compact, gig-ready design.

OhmRGB by Livid Instruments (£519 / $599)

MIDI controller DAW music production

OhmRGB is an interactive MIDI instrument, designed to give you hands on controls for music/visual performance and production. High-quality faders, knobs, buttons, and RGB LEDs provide the interface for creative expression, whether you’re mixing samples and synths of DJ’ing a cutting-edge set.
OhmRGB looks gorgeous with it’s handmade mahogany end caps and provides brilliant levels of quality and control.

There is also a “Slim” version of OhmRGB which retains all the functionality of the original but fits it into a smaller and lighter package for added portability.

OhmRGB will “simply work with any software that supports MIDI”. Templates are available for certain production software here.

A-300PRO by Roland (£155 / 219)

MIDI controller DAW music production

If you’re looking for keyboard controllers that you can use in the studio, on-stage, or anywhere you feel inspired, look no further than the A-300PRO. Combining the best of Roland engineering with Cakewalk‘s legendary ease-of-use, the A-300PRO has the features and feel you need to get the most out of your music performances and productions.

Roland are famous for their high quality keyboards so when they integrate MIDI controls into one of them you want to take note. The A-300PRO features 45 assignable controls, 8 dynamic pads for finger drumming and MIDI triggering.

Roland claim it can work with any DAW on PC or Mac and supports Windows 7 and higher or Mac OS X Snow Leopard and higher.

Launch series by Novation 

Novation’s Launch series has a great range of products so there’s something for everyone. There are 3 Launchpad MPCs (4 if you count the Launchpad app), 2 Launch control controllers, and 4 Launchkey controller/keyboards.

As with Akai’s APC series, Novation’s Launch devices come with Ableton Live Lite and will work instantly using Ableton software. Launch devices work with Windows 7 and higher or Mac OS X 10 and higher.

Launchpad (£74+ / $99+)

MIDI controller launch music production DAW

Novation’s Launchpads are dynamic, grid based instruments. With them you can launch clips, play drum racks and control your mixer utilising the impressive lighting of the pads and controls.
Launchpad is available as Launchpad Pro, Launchpad, and Launchpad Mini or as an app for iOS.

Launch Control (£49+ / $69+)

MIDI controller DAW music production

Novation’s two Launch Control controllers give you a massive amount of control over your productions and performances with 24 or 16 knobs to use, sliders on the XL, and various functionality buttons.
Launch Control comes in a standard and XL version.

Launchkey (£74 / $99)

Novation MIDI controller keyboard DAW music

Novation’s Launchkeys are more hybrids of keyboards and MIDI controllers. They come in 25, 49, and 61-note versions of the velocity sensitive keyboard with mod and pitch wheels. There are 16 pads for control and drumming, 8 knobs to shape sounds and effects, and 9 precise faders for smooth volume adjustment.
There is also a Launchkey mini which has 25 notes and strips some (but certainly not all) of the controls for a portable, smaller package.

MiniLab by Arturia (£79 / $99)

Arturia MiniLab MIDI controller music DAW

Arturia’s MiniLab USB Controller combines the hands-on control you love with the portability you need to take your studio wherever you go. MiniLab offers one of the most feature packed, compact control systems on the market.

There are 8 MIDI Preset pads (save up to 16 presets with), pitch and mod wheels, and buttons for octave settings and controlling pad presets. There are also 4 sets of 4 knobs (16 total) all on top of 25 velocity-sensitive keys that provides great playability and editing functions. MiniLab includes Analog Lab and a massive library of 5000 synth sounds.

Arturia’s MiniLab is compatible with Windows 7 and higher or Mac 10.8 and higher.


Once you have your MIDI controller and got it up and running why not check out our Top Ten Free DAWs list for a guide on free programs you can use to produce your music.
And here’s our Top Ten VST Plugins series to get you started with some free tools:

10 Weird and Wonderful Free VST Plugins

10 of the Best Free VST Synth Plugins

10 of the Top Free Drum VST Plugins

Top 10 Piano & Organ VST Plugins + Bonus Bundle

Phonaudio PHN200 headphones review

It seems that every new pair of headphones that launches these days has to bring something new to the table. “Unparalleled Bluetooth connections from 2 planets away”, “A speaker range so broad that only bats can hear the music played on it”, “Amps so powerful the sides of your head will melt”.

In these times of constant one-upmanship the only thing I really want is a pair of headphones that do everything it’s supposed to, and does it well. That’s exactly the appeal of new headphone creators Phonaudio.

My first impression with Phonaudio’s PHN200 headphones was their sleek look, with a smooth black exterior and gold finish (available in black and silver also). They feel nice to the touch with a solid build consisting of TR90, or ‘Plastic Titanium’, which allows the headphones flexibility and strength that can withstand scratches, impact, stress, bending, and general wear and tear without deformation.

Phonaudio headphone reviewPhonaudio headphone review

It’s flexible build means the PHN200s slide gently over your head as it’s soft, memory foam ear-pads and headband mold around the shape of your head for superior comfort. The ergonomic ear pads will also shift to fit the angle of your temple. That’s not to say the fit feels perfect – the memory foam definitely feels nicer than many headphones and it’s designed to fit tightly for noise isolation, but this can make your ears a little hot and uncomfortable after an extended use, at least for a big head like mine. However it’s shaped-to-fit padding prevents it from becoming a real issue like some, painful, headphones – looking at you Marleys.

Before we get into just how the headphones actually sound (Spoiler alert: pretty good) lets take a look at the PHN200’s functionality. There are 3 buttons and a volume slider that come with the PHN200 but let me just say, there may as well be one button and a volume slider. There’s a multi-function button on the outside of each ear-pads housing, they do exactly what you’d expect – one click equals play/pause/answer/hang up, two clicks equals skip track, and so on. Great stuff but both buttons do exactly the same thing, and then there’s a bonus button on your cable-remote.
Phonaudio headphones review

Three multi-function buttons that do the exact same thing is, I suppose, a non-issue but I just don’t understand any reason for two extra, and by default, needless buttons. At least if you lose the included aux-to-aux cable with the remote you have backup controls…

The remote comes close to being great. The volume slider is integrated so that it controls volume, regardless of source input, so you can use it on a computer or mixer; compared to many earphone volume buttons that only work with certain smartphones.  Unfortunately the slider can be stiff which, when combined with it’s smooth plastic coating, means sliding becomes more pushing and pulling. Combined with the multi-function on the back that I kept accidentally pressing when trying to grip it unfortunately falls short of it’s appeal.

Phonaudio Headphones review

Phonaudio headphones review

The built-in microphone is surprisingly not in the cable-remote on these headphones and is actually built into the left ear cup. This microphone is placed conveniently so you need just to talk and it’s advanced microphone system will pick you up in HD, with adaptive environment adjustments ensuring your voice is heard even through wind and noise.

Phonaudio’s biggest test is whether their quality is up to scratch of making them a real player in the headphone industry. I would say yes. The quality, although not perfect, is pretty great and a substantial improvement on lower end headphones.

With a high impedance the PHN200s are capable of receiving a lot of power and that power is rarely lost when played through the headphones. It’s large driver size allows for better than average bass sounds, which are easily the highlight in it’s sound quality breathing new life into heavy bass-driven songs. Highs are nice and clear however the mid can become lost in the mix a bit depending on the intensity of your low end. I did notice a difference in quality between the power of outputs, for example it sounds great from my computer but using my smartphone the quality became slightly muddied.

Phonaudio headphone review

The noise isolation is good, with very little leakage in or out of the pads except at high volume, which you’d expect. The PHN200s can go loud, capable of matching decibels similar to that of a nightclub which is more than anyone should ever require – unless they require going deaf. The amps in the headphones also maintain their quality throughout levels, so whether listening at the quietest or loudest setting you won’t lose much detail.

I used a pair of Sony MDR-ZX100’s as a comparison point, cheap and cheerful but with a consistently decent level of clarity. I could notice the difference instantly, the Sony’s may be clear but Phonaudio’s power boosts the sound and makes it come alive. It doesn’t lose quality either, just makes every part of the music shine through larger than before for a definite enhanced listening experience.

Verdict

Phonaudio’s PHN200 headphones aren’t perfect, but they’re still pretty damn good. The main thing I like about them is that they aren’t trying to be a gamechanger or re-enliven the industry, they’re just supposed to be good quality headphones at a reasonable price.

Their design feels great for the most part with a soft padding that basically hugs the ears, though can become slightly tight after a few hours but then what wouldn’t after being wrapped around your head for hours. The excess of buttons may be unnecessary but really doesn’t negate the rest of the package with is solid, comfortable, and sturdy.

The sound isn’t the best quality you will ever hear but it still sounds pretty great and really benefits from the powerful specs of the headphones. It did unfortunately lose a little clarity when played through a smartphone (still sounds better than your cheap set) however I’m sure it would sound great with a proper portable music player like Onkyo’s hi-res player.

If you’re willing to spend £200 on a pair of headphones I would easily place these next to any headphones at equivalent prices, though it won’t be competition to expensive, hi-res competitors


 

Phonaudio review

The PHN200’s are available for £209 with an over-ear equivalent available for £229. You can pre-order a pair from www.phonaudio.com.

It’s controls are compatible with Android, iPhones, and Windows phones.

Instagram launching Business profiles to offer insights and promotion tools

Instagram are adding business profiles so that businesses can gain insights into their pages, audiences and access extra tools pinpoint their audiences.

Instagram accounts registered as a business will soon be able to use tools to measure engagement and promote their posts more specifically. The update will introduce two new free tools: Insights and Promote.

With the Insights tool businesses can view the reach and performance of their posts, keep up to date with followers, and even learn what times of day are best to post depending on the audience. Understanding your audience is crucial to creating content that your followers care about, and making sure that you reach them.

Promote allows businesses to fine tune their posts to reach specific target audiences, add call to action buttons, and select a time period for promoted posts. If you can’t be bothered with the fuss Instagram can help you automatically promote posts.

Over 200,000 companies use Instagram’s picture and video based social media platform. With over 300 million active monthly users the Facebook owned platform is incredibly popular and has a large, diverse audience that companies can tap into. CEO and co-founder of handmade accessory business Jackson and Hyde, Genevieve Monroe said to Instagram: “Instagram has been critical for brand exposure, dialogue with new and potential customers and being discovered by partners and retailers.”

In their announcement post, Instagram said: “With so many companies using Instagram, and many people on the platform interacting with them, there was a desire from our business community to do more. So we listened . And, after hundreds of interviews with businesses, three key needs became clear – Stand out, get insights, and find new customers.

Business tools and profiles will be introduced across the US, Australia, and New Zealand over the coming months and will be available worldwide by the end of the year.